Thursday November 10, 2016
Patricia Thompson Collamer
A stomach knotted by shock, cinched by horror kept me from the keyboard. Until now.
Election Day 2016 came after an eternity of banter and babble media sources touted as conversations and interviews. A minor in statistics left me skeptical of all political “polls” flashed hour by hour on the television screens. Sources with .com in their names spouting political opinions give me the shivers. Most of us endured a sustained ache in our temples for over a year and half. For me, that throb persists.
The day, the night, had finally come. A friend suggested bottles of wine. After casting my vote I picked up a pair. The TV remote control volleyed one analysis to the next. I forced myself to weed fact from the frenzy of conjecture. Months of practice kept me glued. Dinner consisted of leftover quesadillas.
Early returns disturbed any semblance of rational thought. I left the room in search of a bucket and a brush. It was time to clean toilets. An hour later the news was no better. I walked upstairs and started to iron; place mats, napkins, a tablecloth last seen Easter Sunday. I finished up pressing one of the cat’s favorite blankets. Somehow being away from the television felt safe; as if nothing bad could happen without me in the room.
July 12, 2016
I shadowed my mother for years. She was a bundle of energy regardless of her mood. Trip-tripping after her all day was as natural as air. She sang songs, made up rhyming games, and criticized dust a lot. On the days she was winning the battle against clutter I could ask her anything.
Just before my 6th birthday I had a brief identity crisis. Daydreaming over milk and Oreo cookies all thoughts fixed on my name, Patricia. It seemed rather a mouthful. That was reason enough to shorten it. Mom explained to me once it meant regal. Then she giggled.
In truth I had three names:
“Patty” meant a call to action. I responded slowly.
“Paaaaaatriiiiiiiiiiciaaaa” meant guilt. I dove out of sight and invented excuses.
“PATRICIA MARIE” meant reformation. I headed for the nearest exit.
Half way into a final cookie dunk I considered the significance of my name. I chased the last bite with a gulp of milk, licked my mustache clean, and ran off to find Mom. I had an important question. She had the answer.
I found her two bedrooms down the hall. She was wearing seven glasses on her fingers nabbed from underneath the beds.
Out of breath now I asked, “Mom, who was I named after?”
She stopped in a peculiar pause.
“My grandfather Patrick, Patrick Michael Reagan.” I had heard that name before. I had even seen a picture of him- tall, narrow nose, thin build; didn’t look like anyone in the family I’d ever met.
My curiosity about this business of naming children piqued. The origin of mine could uncover clues about how I fit into the family. Had I been a boy our clan would have had two pairs, a matched set. Maybe Mom and Dad wanted a fourth boy. Was I a disappointment from day one? Every time she yelled “Patricia” would she rather have hollered “Patrick?”
Anticipation pushed out the crowning question.
“Mom, if I was a boy would you have named me Patrick?”
She blinked her answer.
Mom and glasses clinked around the corner.
I stared. Did she want a Patty or not?